Category Archives: MUSIC NEWS

Over & Out, Autumn: Post Pines May 31st

The Cowboy & The Lady

Walking home in the pissing rain last night it felt strange to think that we hadn’t yet reached winter in Sydney. My cowboy boots have been soaked for days. My hair has been a windswept mess for weeks. A recent trip to Canada’s East Coast prepped me for the unseasonable autumn cold, though my uniform of floral dresses and opaques and not much else would suggest otherwise. My drinking habits have been more of a revelation. I haven’t drunk white wine for almost a month. It’s strictly red wine and dark ales and cinnamon whiskey. And listening habits… well, here’s at look at what has leaked across the airwaves.

This week on Pines we explored the very new and the very old and a few songs in-between. Aside from brief sixties flirtations via Lee Hazlewood and Anne-Margret, the nostalgia fest of last week (on account of Bob Dylan’s birthday) was mostly swept aside for more contemporary sounds. And so it was that we slow-danced into the program with one of the more pensive tracks from New Orleans based Hurray For The Riff’s ‘I Know You’. It’s an album track and therefore impossible to find online but if you want a taster of the their sound, try this on for size:

Hurray For The Riff Raff, Too Much Of A Good Thing

From perhaps the best kept secret in Louisiana onto a band who are more or less the most popular folkies on the planet, Fleet Foxes. All beards, all harmonies, all the time. Here is their recent performance on Jools Holland. Check out Robin Pecknold’s sweet Gibson. I don’t care how cute they all are, it’s the guitar I’m lusting about.

The latest offering from sisters/brother trio Kitty, Daisy & Lewis helped to break up what was close to becoming an overly earnest program. The trio wooed Australian audiences in January and are set to be back here a little later this year following the release of their latest album, Smoking In Heaven.

But… never one to stay with upbeat sounds for too long, we also heard an old mournful favourite from the fantastic Gillian Welch in the form of ‘ Time (The Revelator)’. I had the fear that her contribution to The Decemberists single ‘Down By The Water’ might be her only foray into new sounds for 2011, however, it’s been confirmed that Welch will release a new album on June 28. The album is called ‘The Harrow & The Harvest’. I’m pretty much counting down the days.

I haven’t been able to play this next song on Pines on account of it never having been officially released, but if you’re a Gillian fan and you haven’t heard ‘Throw Me A Rope/ The Way It Would Be’ prepare for some achin’ and breakin’. Complete with a Townes Van Zandt mention at the end…

And that pretty much wrapped it. However it must be said, although I only played Lee Hazlewood and Ann Margret’s spectacular ‘You Turned My Head Around’ once, I must have thought about it a thousand times this past week. So in love.

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Unpacking the Pines: May 24, 2011

Soon, soon, very soon FBi Radio will have the ability to stream content ‘on demand’. For listeners, it’s an exciting development because it means that if you miss an episode of In The Pines you will be able to stream it at your leisure whenever you get the yearning for some americana/alt-country/folk/sadcore goodness. For broadcasters, it’s exciting too because it means that what once used to disappear into the airwaves gets to live on. That makes it a little bit terrifying too. Mistakes on demand! Flirtations with guests on demand! Accidental swearing on demand! The joys of live radio. What the hell, I’m looking forward to it.

In the meantime however, if you missed the show all I can offer up is the playlist and a re-cap of some of the highlights. So without further ado….


Bob Dylan’s milestone 70th birthday was all over print, online and radio this week and Pines was no different. I started the show with ‘I Threw It All Away’, later played ‘One Of Us Must Know’ (Sooner Or Later) and also shared Micah P. Hinson’s version of ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’ from his excellent covers album All Dressed Up And Smelling Of Strangers. Cat Power’s bittersweet hymn to her hero, ‘Song To Bobby’ rounded out the birthday celebrations. After the show, I managed to muster a few thoughts on Dylan for the blog, so if you’re interested you can check it out here.


For those who have exhausted all possible plays of 2008’s beautiful For Emma, Forever Ago and it’s all too brief follow-up Blood Bank , there is much joy to be had in the knowledge that a new release from Justin Vernon is just around the corner. Due for release on June 20, early reports suggest the sophomore effort Bon Iver, Bon Iver is an extension of the first album but with sporadic bursts of electronic experimentation. I played the first single ‘Calgary’ on the show this week and also directed listeners towards this recent appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in the US.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love Justin Vernon’s voice… But his marriage of early 90’s Bonnie Raitt with Leon Russell’s ‘A Song For You’ doesn’t leave me aching for more and I kind of wish he’d performed one of his own songs. Why does it disappoint me so? In unabridged versions of the Russell classic, there’s a line Listen to the melody/ ‘Cause my love is in their hiding . I must have marvelled over its simple beauty a thousand times. To my ears, Vernon hides nothing. Check out this Willie Nelson video here if you’re interested something more subtle.

And if you want to hear Bon Iver doing what Bon Iver do best, you can download ‘Calgary’ here.


I’m a big believer that almost every song could be improved with a little more twang. As such, I’m pleased to say that the ethereal voiced Boston-based folk singer Marissa Nadler has taken that route with her latest single ‘The Sun Always Reminds Me Of You’. The demo version of the song has been doing the rounds for about six months but with her self-titled album due for release next month, we now have the legit version, complete with loads of pedal steel.

And to round things up, a promise I’m bound to regret…

I would be the first to admit that become a bit of a broken record with my on-air adoration of Bill Callahan in recent months, so on Tuesday I committed to taking a break from playing tunes from his latest release Apocalypse for at least a little while. If you haven’t gone out bought the album yet, I will no longer urge you to do so. I will save my adjectives and adorations for other artists and other LPs. But as I’m heaping praise on other tunes, I’m sure if you listen closely, in the silent seconds you will hear something like “It’s good but it’s not ‘Riding For The Feeling’.”

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Bustin’ Outta Nashville

What can I say, I’m easily distracted. It’s been some months since I gave the blog the love it aches for. We took a holiday from each other. In the downtime, I managed to visit New York, start a new job and indulge in more pints than a pint-sized lady should be able to. But it’s time for a return to writing. My restless feet, twitching fingers and aching liver say so. In the next few weeks I will share my thoughts on seeing Willie Nelson play at the Manhattan Center Grand Ballroom, rant about some new records and post interviews with James Murphy, The Yearlings and Ruth Moody. So that’s all in works. But in the meantime… can I direct you to something I’m going to shamelessly rip-off in the near future?

American music critic Nathan Rabin writes a wonderful blog for the website It’s called Nashville Or Bust and if you haven’t had a chance to check it out, it’s definitely worth a squizz. Basically, Rabin is a hip-hop writer who had grown tired of writing about hip-hop and decided to go on a rather epic exploration of country music. For just over a year Rabin has written tender, sad and amusing musings on country artists past and present (mostly past) in a way that has totally reinvigorated the way I think about music writing. He’s up to Week 42 in a series of 52 entries so there’s plenty of previous posts to trawl through, but I thought I’d point In The Pines listeners/readers to some of the gems I’ve enjoyed the most before I embark on my rip-off project.***

Check it out:

Townes Van Zandt

Waylon Jennings

Gary Stewart

***Okay, so it’s not a full-blown rip-off and you’ll see why soon but credit where credit’s due, eh?

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Fly away songbird: Sui Zhen heads OS

After a huge twelve months including an inspiring stint at London’s prestigious Red Bull Music Academy, Sydney songstress Sui Zhen is about to leave our shores once more. The singer, also known as Becky Freeman, has decided it’s time to pack her bags (and an acoustic guitar) and embark on a lengthy stint overseas ahead of the release of her two-years-in-the-making debut album.

Keen to take flight from the heavy heartache of a recent break-up and also keen to re-examine her approach to songwriting post-London, Becky flies out of Australia tomorrow. But she’s reassured In The Pines her jet setting ways won’t delay her debut record too much longer.

Speaking on FBi last week, Becky said the long-awaited debut had hit a few snags in the past because of a niggling perfectionism, but her time at the Red Bull Music Academy has inspired a more carefree approach.

“I guess I was just really obsessed with the technical aspects and perfect sound, when now I don’t so much care about perfect sound. I think the most interesting music has so many imperfections in it and that’s why it’s interesting.”

The carefree approach isn’t just limited to recording either. Becky has been gung-ho in her approach to song writing lately and has been sharing many of her new tunes (recorded on garage band) online. Her latest efforts are a series of love songs imaginatively titled according the order in which they were written.

Here’s Love Song 005 performed live on FBi.

Sad as it is that Becky won’t be playing shows in Sydney for a while, there is one last chance to see Sui Zhen in action and that’s tonight. She’s playing at Raval alongside Leroy Lee and Emma Davis. Tickets are available on the door.

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Honey, I Can Go For That

It is no secret that Daryl Hall circa 1984 is the man of my dreams. Famed for his golden mullet, dazzling smile and the best blue-eyed soul voice in the business, Hall has long been an object of my unwavering lust and adoration.

And while you couldn’t exactly say I’m a big fan of contemporary soul or R&B or even contemporary mainstream pop (this is a folk based blog after all) my nostalgic love for Hall & Oates is as great as my love for gin and tonics in the sun on a Sunday afternoon (read: HUGE).

So it is with great anticipation that I look forward to the newest release from LA based indie-pop duo, the bird and the bee. With two critically acclaimed albums under their belt, singer Inara George and multi-instrumentist/producer Greg Kurstin have made the logical next step and decided that their third album will be a collection of Hall & Oates covers.

The album, Guiltless Pleasures Volume 1: A Tribute To Daryl Hall And John Oates features eight Hall & Oates tracks, including ‘Maneater’, ‘Rich Girl’ and ‘Kiss On My List’ as well as an original track that has been described as a love song dedication to the soul-pop kings of yesteryear, ‘Heard It On The Radio’.

The record comes out on March 19 but if you want a taste of re-worked Hall & Oates a little earlier, you can check out the bird and the bee’s live version of ‘I Can’t Go For That’ here.

And if you have forgotten how incredible Hall & Oates are… check this out. Swoon.

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